Following a guided tour of the Tobermory distillery, I had an opportunity to taste a variety of their expressions. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the Tobermory single malts, I was smitten by their selection of Ledaig whiskies.
As you’ll learn in our full guide linked above, they are one of the few distilleries that essentially function under two separate brand names. While the Tobermory expressions are pure malts, the Ledaig varieties are heavily peated.
Blown away by their complex flavours, I grabbed a few bottles for my friends and family. However, I made sure to pick up a 2004 Oloroso Cask Finish for myself.
In this review, you will discover this expression with me as we explore the following topics:
- Whisky Overview
- Nose & Aromas
- Palate & Mouthfeel
- Ideal Pairings
- Overall Experience & Value For Money
Overview Of Ledaig 2004 Oloroso
- Distillery: Tobermory [Ledaig]
- Expression: Oloroso Cask Finish
- Region: Mull [Hebrides]
- Age: 18 Years
- Casking: Ex-Bourbon
- Cask Strength: 53.4% ABV
- Chill-Filtered: No
- Pricing: £25 [20 cl]
- Parent: Burn Stewart [Distell Ltd]
Unfortunately, you may struggle to find the 18 Year Old Oloroso Ledaig if you started to search for it online. This is because it’s part of the distillery’s hand-filled distillery’s exclusives. These are expressions that are sold in small quantities in 20cl. Another expression like this is their 2006 Virgin Oak Cask.
What I quite like about these expressions is that they also include the exact date it was bottled as well as the person who did it. In this case, it was filled on the 27th July 2018 by Graham A, which makes it an 18 year old expression.
Ledaig 2004 Oloroso Robe
- Hue: Dark Amber
- Transparency: Clear
- Body: Full-Bodied
Ledaig’s Oloroso features an old, dark amber hue thanks to its finish in the sherry’s oak cask. Swirling the glass, it promises to be a full-bodied expression thanks to fat and lazy legs that eventually begin to form down the Glencairn’s side.
When testing its viscometric potential, it’s clear that the whisky’s been non-chill filtered thanks to the burst of thick striations.
Ledaig 18 Year Old Oloroso’s Nose
- Notes: Tar, Dried Fig, Mince, Vanilla
- Nosefeel: Peppery
Ledaig’s Oloroso Finish reveals explosive notes of rich, unctuous aromas in the nose. Vinous notes dominate while the peppery texture prickles the nostril. A tarry note looms over crystallised dried fig and mincemeat. Meanwhile, a wispy hint of vanilla softens the bouquet’s finish.
2004 Oloroso Palate & Mouthfeel
- Primary Tastes: Salty, Bitter
- Mouthfeel: Fiery, Oily
- Opening: Lapsang Souchong, Seville Orange, Brine
- Heart: Cloves, Charred Oak, Brandy Butter
- Finish: Long [Bonfire Smoke, Marmalade, Raisins]
Opening with a rich burst of smoke, the Ledaig Oloroso’s profile is characterised by the peated malt. However, it’s far from overwhelming and the flavours tend to edge closer to woody smoke rather than medicinal.
Bittersweet Seville oranges soon follow with a kiss of brine maritime breeze notes. Although the brine persists, the oranges marry with hints of clove. In the meantime, a heavy charred oak note is whisked up by the evolving smoke aromas but feature a creamy richness of brandy butter.
With a long and persisting finish, the expression’s flavoursome finish lingers on the palate with a oily residue. Notes of rich bonfire smoke are present along with an echo of the oranges in the form of oranges. Finally, a sugar rush of raisins caresses the tongue before eventually fading.
Between the nose and palate, I’d liken to entire tasting experience to indulging on a mince pie and sherry beside an old and musty fireplace. With the added notes of bittersweet orange and cloves, it’s an unmistakably Christmassy experience.
Best Pairings With Ledaig Oloroso Cask
With its full character and strong flavours, Ledaig’s Oloroso expression isn’t one that will go with just about anything. However, I tried a few dishes and found that it went particularly well with similarly strong cheeses such as a Bleu de Gex.
Another harmonious pairing was smoked herring. While smoked salmon would be too refined to compete with the Ledaig’s full palate, the tougher fish seems to fare particularly well. Otherwise, I found that chargrilled red meat was quite pleasant when I tried a dram alongside a barbecue.
With regards to cigars, it’s best to opt for either very mature or full-bodied smokes to ensure that the palate is exposed to a consistent level of flavour. Not only would light-bodied or young cigars not contend well to the expression’s strength but their flavours would feel amiss.
Therefore, rich maduro cigars tend to be particularly appropriate. In fact, I found my choice of a Nub Double Maduro to be exceptionally effective in creating a harmonious pairing. Thanks to its gourmand character, it married very well with the Ledaig’s smoky tea and wood notes.
Overall Experience & Value For Money
In terms of presentation, the Ledaig Oloroso was understated to say the least. Sold in plain medicine-style bottles, it would be easy to confuse it with cough syrup! However, these are particularly common for hand-filled expressions and you may stumble upon that at whisky shops with their own malts.
Nevertheless, I quite liked the bottle and found the label to be particularly thoughtful. As mentioned earlier, it includes details such as the cask’s properties and age as well as the filling date and the person who did it. Furthermore, this information is filled in by hand, which adds a personal touch.
I would perhaps have preferred a cork rather than a screw cap. However, it seems to do the job well enough. Given the bottle’s style, there’s no packaging to speak of.
As for the occasion, this is a whisky that’s perfect for more formal occasions between friends and colleagues. Yet it can be enjoyed alone too. Personally, it’s something I’m planning on reserving for cold winter nights. Between the tarry mulled wine nose and with the smoky orange and clove palate, it’s an expression that just screams Christmas!
Otherwise, the value for money feels quite reasonable and I was happy to pay the price for the quantity I received. Indeed, £25-odd for only 20cl may seem steep but you do get an exceptional whisky for an affordable price. Similarly, I much prefer spending a touch more money on a 20cl bottle rather than a 3cl sampler.
Although this is a distillery exclusive that can only be bought on-site, you can still buy a very similar expression online.
For instance, the Ledaig 18 Year-Old is another limited edition whisky with a likeness to the 2004 Oloroso in both character and finish. You can easily find a regular bottle for sale in the USA on Reserve Bar for around $180.
A remarkable single malt that will be very challenging to find elsewhere but within the distillery itself, Ledaig’s 18 Year Old Oloroso Cask boasts a lavish and complex profile. Those seeking to experience a Hebridean malt but are wary of peat would likely appreciate this.
Rather than a shamelessly peaty flavour, the well-matured spirit has developed a more ornate nature with a smoky structure. Rather than embodying the island whiskies like Laphroaig, it offers a unique perspective on the resulting flavours derived from peat maltings.
If you do ever head to Tobermory, this should be on your shopping list. In fact, my regret is not buying more so I could keep one aside to reserve for a special occasion.
Once you’ve finished reading our review, feel free to peruse our wide range of whisky content such as the following resources:
- Tobermory Distillery History
- How To Taste Scotch Whisky
- How To Serve Scotch Whisky
- Best Whisky Glassware
"A mature and unctuous malt. Perhaps embodying the Christmas spirit, this particularly vinous spirit is bursting with rich smoky aromas and spicy flavours."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★